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Support for the Unwritten Constitution – The Westminster Model

In the interwar and postwar periods in Britain the view amongst academics and the political elite was that Britain’s unwritten constitution worked well. Two sets of ideas underpinned this; the Whig view of history and the Westminster model.

The Westminster Model

Political scientists have seen this model as the dominant view of the British system.

The winning party in the general election takes over the Prime Ministership and the Cabinet positions and control of Government Departments and carries out the policies in the manifesto for which the voters have given it a mandate.

This is held to produce democratic and decisive government and the British Constitution with its limited checks on the Executive in the sense of day to day Government policy makes this possible.

Britain is a unitary and not a federal state and this ensures that the Government can carry out uniform policies across the country.

The job of the Opposition is to attack Government policy and, through the media and campaigning, build up a case to replace the current Government.

The voters take the decision after four or five years and judge whether the Government should continue or be thrown out to be replaced by the other side.

Politicians, the media and the voters still hold to this view of how things work.